Sunday, 5 September 2010

Martin Barré (1924-1993) Galerie Nathalie Obadia

Galerie Nathalie Obadia is currently exhibiting work by Martin Barré.  An artist that is surely of significance to the current reductionists but the difference is that there is protest in Martin Barré that has informed the materials and the style not just an adoption of a cool, simple aesthetic.

Earlier this year the Christies auctioneer's had a sale of  Martin Barré's work and their description in the catalogue gives a good sense of his work:

"An extremely discreet painter, Martin Barré worked tirelessly throughout his life to conceal the artist behind the creative act and he was very economical with the resources he used. For titles, for instance, his works bear impersonal series of numbers and letters. This makes it difficult to identify in the painter a particular intention, plan or ambition: the painting does not refer to anything, it is its own referent. Halfway between geometric abstraction and lyrical abstraction, Martin Barré's work is now considered to be a pioneer of minimal art in France.

His early works, produced using a knife, demonstrate great mastery of composition and a clear sense of colour. 56-80-P is symbolic of this period: the space of the canvass, cleverly worked into a series of rectangular blocks of colour and geometrical breaks, effects a skilful unbalance through which a powerful tension is expressed between form and colour and emptiness and fullness. Later, gradually reducing his palette to monochrome, Martin Barré escaped from the orthogonal restrictions of the canvass in which he had previously been confined, as if the work now extended out of its frame. The works from 1966 and 1967 presented here are the expression of this new approach.

Produced using spray paint, both works (lots 29 and 30) reveal traces of a foamy, vaporous black, as if expanding over the flat surface of the canvass. Black on white: the shape erupts from the canvass in a very simple but incredibly striking way, never allowing itself to be confined: it is fleeting, it passes through without stopping, it is moving, whether embodied in the dynamic flight of an arrow (67-F-12) or penetrating the space from the edge of the canvass, before shooting out the other side (67-Z-21). Barré's artistic act is eminently political, influenced by the graffiti painted with spray cans during the Algerian war. But above all because it makes a radical distinction between the work and its author, the spray can carries out the artist's work: the painter remains at a distance from the canvass, there is no longer a brush, no longer a knife, nothing to provide physical continuity between him and his medium. The artistic act therefore becomes purely independent, referring to nothing other than itself, in other words its own movement and its own vibration."

1 comment:

  1. great post APE ! its funny I don't see them as minimal at all . of course they are, as genre, but seem strangely full in their sparsity . The measure of the artist.